Plan would extend Midtown Greenway to St. Paul across Mississippi rail bridge

It could cost anywhere between $7 million and $27 million.
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Short Line Bridge

One of the most heavily-used bike trails in Minneapolis would be extended across the Mississippi River to St. Paul under a new plan.

The Midtown Greenway runs for 5.5 miles along an old railway line in south Minneapolis, starting west of Bde Maka Ska and cutting a path that runs parallel to Lake Street all the way to West River Parkway on the banks of the Mississippi.

Now a plan proposed by the Midway Greenway Coalition's "Extend the Greenway" campaign would see the bike trail extend across the Mississippi, crossing the Short Line Bridge to link up with St. Paul's bike trail system, providing easier access for bike users to venues such as Allianz Field.

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The Short Line Bridge is currently used by Canadian Pacific, which leases railroad operations to Minnesota Commercial Railroad.

But the declining number of freight trains utilizing the route has given the coalition hope that the company would be willing to allow bike users to share the bridge once the necessary investments have been made.

It has proposed four possible options for how the bridge could be shared, ranging from the cheapest – rail traffic stops on the bridge that are converted for the sole use of bikers and walkers – to the priciest – a new bridge deck built ABOVE the railway line allowing cyclists to travel over freight trains.

Here's a look at the options and costs:

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The feasibility study has been carried out by Kimley Horn on behalf of the coalition, which hopes to use it to boost support for the project at the grassroots and political level.

The bridge sits entirely within Hennepin County's jurisdiction, with the Pioneer Press noting that the project's future "rests largely with the political establishment."

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But as coalition board member Dan Cross told the newspaper, the hope is that as the public become more aware of the possibility, "the county probably won't have much choice but to move on it."

The Midtown Greenway is owned by the Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority, while its trails are maintained by the City of Minneapolis.

The coalition describes itself as a combination of "neighborhoods, organizations, and individuals who love the Midtown Greenway and want to protect and enhance it." 

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